This year I did the 300K brevet. Actually, this year I did the 247K.
I've been doing the 200K brevet for a few years now. The 200K has appeal since it really isn't much more than a regular century, it starts at a reasonable hour, and it starts really close to where I live. But I've had no desire to do any of the others. Don't get me wrong, I have profound admiration for all the ultra people who do the 200, 300, 400 and then 600K brevets, for the privilege of doing a 1200K ride, but I long ago decided this was not for me, for several reasons.
I like cycling, but I also like sleep. I like to ride my buns off, but I also like to knock back a cold one at the end of the day (or a warm one if you're fond of English ales, as I am). Riding 600K gives little opportunity for either.
Also, I have no ability to pace myself, I have one speed, which is about 90% of meltdown, and I ride this way whether I'm doing a ride to the store, or a 200K. Having done this for so many years, I know that 200K is about a far as I can go like this without ambulance support.
But Susan had signed up to help Dave with the 300K. Which meant Susan was getting up at 3AM, a hour somewhere in the nether region between very early and very late. My first thought was "Don't make too much noise when you leave." But then I devised a plan whereby I could be a good husband, spend time with Mrs. D, and get some riding in myself. I would ride with her to the start, send all the real riders on their way, then ride in the van to the first checkpoint, where I would join the ride. By then it would be daylight, so I wouldn't need to mess around with lights. Since I would be fresh when everyone else was forty miles into the ride, I could latch onto a fast group that would have dropped me like a stone had I started with them. I would end up riding not much more than the 200K, so I had a reasonable chance of finishing without reducing myself to a drooling, quivering mass of protoplasm.
Not only that, but we would have time between the start and when we were due at the first checkpoint to stop for a nice breakfast. I had visions of cheese omelettes, hash browns, the works. This was beginning to sound really good. Alas, the fatal flaw with the plan was that there really aren't that many breakfast places open at 4:30 in the morning. Plus we didn't have enough time between start and when we were due at the checkpoint for a proper breakfast. So, breakfast was at chez Store 24. Hot food was not to be had there, so I had to settle for a box of those little chocolate covered doughnuts ("Donettes" said the box). That and massive quantities of caffeine and I was ready to ride.
The plan worked out beautifully. I latched (or should I say leeched) onto the first group through. This group was headed by a tandem powered by Jodi and Charly, who had both finished in the first group on the 200K. So I spend most of the ride admiring their rear wheel. I did have an occasional qualm of guilt for bringing shame onto the House of Donohue with my Rosy Ruiz start and unabashed tandem wheelsucking, but I got over it. I did think the Lord was punishing my evil ways when I ran straight over a beer bottle, shattering it into a million pieces. Miraculously, I did not go down, or flat, so I guess God was on my side after all.
On the third leg (second for me), I did find myself out in front some, so when we got to the third checkpoint I was getting tuckered out. So I decided to keep Susan company for a while, and avoid the shame of being dropped on the last leg. Melinda and crew showed up shortly thereafter, and I considered affixing myself to their group, but decided that that would entail a bit too much effort. So I enjoyed a leisurely turkey sandwich and waited for another riding companion. John LePage showed up and I took off with him, arriving back at Bedford without ever having looked at the cue sheet.
So while there were a couple of DNF's (Did not finish) on the ride, I think I was the only DNS (Did not start).